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2 Good to Be True

October 22, 2009 By:
Jared Shelly, JE Feature
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Gertrude Cohen (left) and Gertrude Stein share their Phillies spirit at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. Photo by Jared Shelly

While 46,000 fans were cheering at Citizens Bank Park as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and earned a trip to the World Series for the second year in a row, Gertrude Stein was just as happy to be watching the game on TV.

After Jayson Werth slammed a three-run home run in the first inning to give the Phillies the lead, Stein couldn't stop clapping.

"I'm really enjoying this," Stein, 95, said in one of the community living rooms at the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life where she sat watching the game with a handful of seniors. The area was decorated with Phillies signs, and some artwork by a resident even depicted the Phillie Phanatic.

"I like watching the game with other people. I like the enthusiasm. I like when someone yells."

Watching the Phillies games -- especially this time of year -- makes Stein think of her late husband, Martin. In fact, one of their first dates was to watch the Phillies at Shibe Park in the 1930s.

Like any fan in her 90s, Stein has certainly seen her share of bad Phillies teams. They only made the playoffs a handful of times since the 1950s.

"I was disappointed because my husband and son were disappointed," she said.

But last year, the Phils finally broke through and won the World Series -- and just like this year, Stein and a few friends watched it at Abramson.

"We were screaming and hollering, no crying," said Stein. "I hope we can do it again this year."

"It makes me think of the good times and how much he loved baseball," she said of her husband. "A lot of the ladies here are into baseball because their husbands were. It helps a lot of them reminisce."

While the 8 p.m. game time -- and an ending around midnight -- was a bit too late for most residents at the assisted-living and nursing home in North Wales, Stein said the game made her too excited to sleep.

The impromptu gathering is just the type of thing that Patti Tuberty, senior communications specialist, likes to see at the facility.

"To connect with other residents and staff and root for the Phillies creates the community and family atmosphere we strive for here," she said.

The residents at the Abramson Center are not shy about their love of sports. The facility has a Sports Club that meets every Tuesday, where volunteers lead discussions about sports. This time of year, naturally, it's all Phillies talk. Abramson also sponsored an outing to a Phillies game in August and just a few weeks ago hosted the Phillie Phanatic himself.

Also cheering her team on was Dorothy Davis, who's been a Phillies fan since she was a little girl. How could she not be a fan growing up at 4th and Ritner Streets in South Philly? After Andre Ethier hit a home run in the first inning to give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead, Davis had a continued look of confidence and insisted the Phillies would pull out a win.

Although a ticket to last night's National League pennant clincher went for hundreds of dollars, Davis said that sitting with her friends at Abramson gave her the best seat in the house.

"I don't want to be at the game, it's too cold," she said. "I'd rather be here with my friends."

Beverly Zislis, wearing her blue Phillies T-shirt, remembers the party atmosphere when the Phillies won the World Series back in 1980.

"The whole neighborhood went crazy," she said.

Of course, she went to the parade that year, a scene she described as "nutty." For last year's festivities -- with an estimated 2 million people on Broad and Market Streets -- she avoided the crowds and watched it on TV instead.

Looking ahead to the World Series, Zislis thinks the Phillies will come out on top, even if it's against the New York Yankees.

"I think it'll be a hard series, but I think they'll win," said Zislis. "Each team has such determination. It'll be exciting and invigorating to watch."

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